From Sat Jul 31 10:15:09 2004
Date: Fri, 30 Jul 2004 15:33:49 -0500 (CDT)
From: Kathy <>
Subject: 25th Anniversary Remembrances!
Article: 186250
To: undisclosed-recipients: ;

Now I Understand

By Chuck Kaufman, Co-coordinator of the Nicaragua Network, [30 July 2004]

In this year of the 25th anniversary of the Nicaraguan revolution, the Nicaragua Network is compiling remembrances of people whose lives were changed by their visits to and involvement in the Sandinista experiment.

If you visited Nicaragua for the first time during the years of the revolution, please send us a few paragraphs recounting your experience and what it meant to you. Many of you lived in Nicaragua for months and even years. Some of you live there now! Maybe a few paragraphs is not enough. Please consider writing a longer piece to tell your story. We would like to publish these stories in the Nicaragua Monitor, put them on our web page, and possibly publish them in one of our occasional monographs. Send them to

Just to start those fingers flying, here is a sample (360 word) remembrance from Chuck Kaufman, Co-coordinator of the Nicaragua Network.

Now I Understand

I remember thinking as the bus was taking us from the Sandino Airport to the then Juventud Sandinista camp (now the Olafito) on a December night in 1987, that I now understood why the rich and powerful wanted to own Nicaragua. The soft humid air, in contrast to the Northern winter, the birdsong and tropical scents, and of course, the Nicaraguan people, made me begin to fall in love with that country within hours of arrival.

Like thousands of North Americans, my first introduction to Nicaragua was as part of a coffee brigade. I had been volunteering full-time for the Nicaragua Network for several months in reaction to Iran-Contra and the insufferable Oliver North. That first trip to Nicaragua expanded my perspective from one which opposed US intervention to one which supported the Sandinista Revolution. It also resulted in my continuing on the staff of the Nicaragua Network for the past 17 years.

Historians would say that by 1987 the US-contra war, economic errors by the Revolutionary government, unmet peasant desire for their own plot of land, ration cards, and other hardships were already eroding popular support for the revolution. However, that sure wasn't my experience. The people we met with in Managua, and even more so, the people we worked with on the coffee farm near Matagalpa, were proud of their revolution and were patriotic Nicaraguans. I remember the readjustment that caused me. I had always equated patriotism with right-wing chauvinism, but here was a people whose national pride was justified! They were proud of their literacy crusade, the health brigades that were eradicating disease, the Sandinista Defense Committees that were protecting the neighborhoods and leading community clean-up and improvement projects.

That a government could actually care about, and give preferential treatment to, its most vulnerable citizens was an idea that had never occurred to me. It made me realize that the single party system in the United States was not reformable; that only a complete transformation would end its destruction of the world's people and environment. Like many others, my first trip to Nicaragua changed the entire direction of my life. Chuck Kaufman National Co-Coordinator Nicaragua Network